Oh, the Joys of Learning to Deal with ADHD

I am domestically challenged. Let's just start there.

Cleaning, organization, lack of chaos, all require a quality that I am desperately short of: consistency.

I am TERRIBLY inconsistent. This is one part ADHD, one part variety of interests, one part high intelligence, and one part shiny syndrome. If it requires doing every single damn day AND it's boring as hell, the likelihood I will be able to pull off doing it consistently is next to nil.

Therefore I spend most of my days off of work trying to deal with the chaos.

Add a husband with ADHD (though a different manifestation, thank God) and 3 doggies without opposable thumbs and the chaos never ends.

I'm learning to deal.

One of the ways I learned to deal is by recognizing that for me to be fully engaged in ANYTHING, the work at hand must:

1. Be intellectually stimulating.
2. Involve my hands.
3. Require constant visual attention.
4. Require constant aural attention.
5. KEEP my attention a.k.a. not be subject to easy distraction.

Unless all 5 are present, whatever menial task I am doing with require the utmost of personal will to accomplish. This is mentally exhausting at the best of times, and almost impossible at the worst.

I'd developed many coping strategies before my diagnosis of ADHD, none of them particularly healthy.

One of the primary symptoms of ADHD is difficulty in assigning, changing, and continuing focus on what is at hand. There's a lot of chemical reasons behind the difficulty in managing attention, but that's another post.

Most coping strategies of undiagnosed ADHD involve "waking up the brain". Almost all of these end up as one form or another of addiction, including:

1. Alcoholism
2. Illicit drugs
3. Sex addiction
4. Adrenaline addiction
5. Gambling addiction
6. Shopping addiction
7. etc....

My three particularly biggest bugbears were (and sometimes still are) shopping addiction, food addiction, and our particular favorite in this household, drama addiction.

Drama is particularly good for keeping the brain awake, but particularly bad for quality of life. However, it's also EXTREMELY effective at keeping the brain engaged, and doesn't require money, time, or leaving the house.

Dealing with ADHD in my case means cutting off the drama addiction and learning new coping mechanisms. Oddly enough, medication is extremely helpful in this pursuit, but that's a whole 'nother post.

The first part of dealing is accepting reality. Yes, there are people who can spend hours on end cleaning and organizing and can get it all done in one fell swoop. I am not one of those people. My attention span at any one given activity is 30 minutes at a time, max. However, my tolerance for and interest in Activity A resets as soon as I've spent my time on Activity B and Activity C. By cycling my tasks, I am better able to keep engaged. Is this scattered? Sure. Does it require breaking things down into smaller tasks? Absolutely. But it works.

The second part is finding replacements for my coping mechanisms. In my case, replacing drama addiction meant finding another way to engage my brain while doing menial tasks. This took some testing. Problem is, menial tasks are so boring, and quiet.

Thank God for smartphones. Spotify, Audible, and Winamp are my friends. Multiple, readily available genres of music, audiobooks, and podcasts at my immediate command. Unlimited intellectual and aural stimulation at my fingertips.

Speaking of which, laundry and the Grammar Girl are calling my name.


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